Thursday, August 27, 2009


Questions Raised by Selections for Judicial Nominating Committee

The Judicial Nominating Committee, the unconstitutional device created by the General Assembly which will continue the tasks previously designated to the heavily political and unconstitutional Judicial Selection Committee, has been named by Speaker Kent Williams and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey.

The selections were curious in many parts, but two primary questions are generated by these selections.

1) What was Kent Williams thinking? It has been no secret that Kent Williams and his family have been begging (in a disparaging manner, mind you) the Republican State Executive Committee to let Williams back into the party. In particular, the Speaker's sister, Judy Veeneman, engaged in an open e-mail discussion with several members of the SEC that undoubtedly hurt her brother's cause.

With regards to Williams, I have preached patience and reflection to some of the SEC members and fellow Republicans. In my view, Williams simply asking to be let back in after his treachery in January is laughable. It's like asking for forgiveness from your wife for forgetting your anniversary but showing up san flowers or chocolates. You say you're a Republican, Kent - prove it. By appointing Democratic committee chairs on the more important committees, you're down in the count. Which is why I was wanting to see what Williams did on Judicial Nominating. Surely, he would be able to pick a Republican slate that would help Republicans to at least have a chance of being elevated to the appellate bench (not that this would cure the nearly 40 years of liberal rule on the Selection Committee, but it would be a step in the right direction).

So how did Williams do? Referencing the background information from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, of the 8 members Williams selected, 2 were known Republicans, 3 were unknown or could not be easily determined by TCPR, and 3 were known Democrats. Some had given to such political moderates as Jimmy Naifeh and Randy Camp.

Williams failed, SEC. Let RNC Chairman Steele pour money into Carter County and take out the Democrat Williams. And have some cojones, House Republican Caucus, and let Williams caucus with the rest of the Independent Caucus in a phone booth on Broadway.

2) What was Ron Ramsey thinking? In full disclosure, I had applied to be one of Ron Ramsey's selections. Why? Because Ron Ramsey encouraged me to do so. It's also a great opportunity for public service that doesn't involve a commitment like relocation or abandoning my clients.

There were many great candidates for the positions. That being said, I am disappointed in a few of Ron's choices. Despite Ramsey telling a meeting of bloggers in Knoxville several months back that conservatives were needed on the Nominating Committee, Democratic contributor Jack Lowery was selected. That came as a surprise to me.

Probably most puzzling, though, given Ramsey's current position as a candidate for the Governor's Mansion, was his selection of political uberdonor Bill Young. (It's tough to tell, but Young might have contributed the most total money to politicians over the past few years out of the 236 candidates.) First, Ramsey had to know that Young's past financial support of Governor Phil Bredesen would not be looked at favorably by the conservative base of the Republican Party. That being said, Young's support has been almost entirely for Republican candidates, and the Bredesen contribution was the exception, not the rule.

The real concerns that Ramsey's primary opponents may seize upon are Young's occupation and Young's status as a "Ron Ramsey for Governor" contributor. Young is General Counsel for the most profitable non-profit corporation in the area - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. Obviously, I don't have to spell out the perception that many would have regarding these connections; I figure the Wamp, Haslam, and Gibbons campaigns can connect the dots for the voters there.

Overall, the selections were fine. The Nominating Committee is a great improvement over the Selection Committee that it is replacing. There are too many corporate attorneys for my liking; I prefer that those who are picking Tennessee judges to have been in a courtroom in the past decade. However, there are a few selections - as stated above - that are politically troubling given the dearth of possibilities that were available to Williams and Ramsey.

Will this keep Williams from getting back into the Republican Party? No, but it doesn't help his cause. Will this cause voters to pull the lever for Wamp instead of Ramsey? Who knows? Republicans I know are having a generally difficult time choosing a side in the Governor's race. Who knows what makes a difference when things are this close?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009


The Life of Colonel David Crockett

I've been reading more lately - but in a good way. Most of my reading over this decade has been increasingly about political events, proposed legislation, news, and the law. Those readings are well and good; they make you knowledgeable in the topics of the day and keep you apprised of what is occurring in your community, state, and nation.

However, you need to digest more to keep things in perspective. Recently, I have been trying to branch out and read more texts - actual "dead wood" books. (My recent reference to Judge Bork's latest text is but one example.) I also find these books to be more uplifting than our politics, news, and such in 2009, as the current party of power looks to destroy all concept of individual liberty and freedom in its quest to cure what it views as "social injustice."

One such work is an oldie but a goodie. It's Edward S. Ellis' 1884 biography of the original Volunteer, entitled The Life of Colonel David Crockett. (You can find this book in paperback at Just look for it in the left sidebar of this page.)

An interesting story from that book can be found here. It's a lengthy read by Internet standards, but the lessons are clear regarding principle over pragmatism, the overriding function of an elected official, and how voters will forgive a contrite man. As Crockett put it:

"Fellow-citizens -- I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only."

Davy Crockett is one of my favorite Tennesseans of all time, alongside Sam Houston and John Sevier. My son, David Leonidas, is partially named after Crockett (the David honoring Crockett and biblical King of Israel, and Leonidas honoring the great king of Sparta in Ancient Greece). Passages like the one linked to this post only make my admiration of Crockett's character and strength more resounding. Perhaps all of our elected officials need to seek his counsel when they, like Crockett once did, start exceeding the bounds of their office.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Report: U.S. Women Delaying Pregnancy

Back in 1970, 1 in 100 births were to women 35 or older.

In 2006, that number has increased to 1 in 12 births.

There are many ways to look at these trends. Perhaps this is a sign that couples are waiting until they are more financially stable to have children. Or perhaps couples are ignorant to the medical risks that increase rapidly as a woman passes 35. You can read more about the study here.

In any case, the U.S. is in a unique position. Our population growth is strong. The numbers bear out that fact, especially when compared to European nations like Italy and the Scandinavian countries. Of course, that couldn't have anything to do with our past aversion to socialism or our superior health care system, could it, liberals?

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Obama Endorses Gay Marriage, Attacks DOMA and States Rights

Gee, didn't see this one coming. I guess Obama is trying to break Dubya's approval rating record.

What is predictable is the coverage. Sure, there's coverage on websites like the Huffington Post and other blogs, but nothing from the MSM sites. Way to go, state-run media!

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Monday, August 10, 2009


A Simple Solution for Bart's Quandry

When pressed as to why he won't meet his bosses constituents face-to-face regarding the health care economy killing bill, Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon shot back with:

“There are over 700,000 in the 6th District in 15 different counties.”

Well, Bart, if the job is too difficult for you, then step aside and let someone else do it.

(H/T: Post Politics)

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Bork, Lamar, and the Supreme Court

"The neutral or nonpolitical application of principle has been discussed in connection with (Herbert) Wechsler's discussion in Brown v. Board of Education. It is a requirement, like the others, addressed to the judge's integrity. Having derived and defined the principle to be applied, he must apply it consistently and without regard to his sympathy or lack of sympathy with the parties before him. This does not mean that the judge will never change the principle he has derived and defined. Anybody who has dealt extensively with the law knows that a new case may seem to fall within a principle as stated and yet not fall within the rationale underlying it. As new cases present new patterns, the principle will often be restated and redefined. There is nothing wrong with that; it is , in fact, highly desirable. But the judge must be clarifying his own reasoning and verbal formulations and not trimming to arrive at results desired on grounds extraneous to the Constitution. This requires a fair degree of sophistication and self-consciousness on the part of the judge. The only external discipline to which the judge is subject is the scrutiny of professional observers who will be able to tell over a period of time whether or not he is displaying intellectual integrity."

The above is from Robert Bork's essay "The Case Against Political Judging," which is included in his recent book, A Time to Speak. It's a phenomenal book, although not a page turner. It includes some of his briefs (such as in the case on the constitutionality of the death penalty, Gregg v. Georgia), more noted opinions, articles, columns, debates, and even some pieces outside of the legal realm. It's probably best read in a piecemeal manner; that's how I approached it. At 715 pages, the amount of information contained in the book is immense. However, unlike some of the academic texts that I have been sent over the years, this one is quite readable. (For some reason, various philosopher kings author books that are written on an overly advanced level. Yes, I can read those books, but I certainly don't enjoy reading those books...) It would make an excellent addition to anyone's library, especially conservative lawyers.

Although it seems a little too late, I would like to have passed this text on to my friend, Senator Lamar Alexander. As a member of the Senate, I would have liked for Lamar to have referred to Bork's text when contemplating his vote on (now Justice) Sotomayor. I would have challenged Lamar to think if Bork, when speaking of the qualities of a good, strong, impartial judge, would have approved of this particular nominee.

Along those lines, I'm not particularly angry at the confirmation of Sotomayor to SCOTUS. She is a sure-fire liberal vote, much like the man she's replacing. And, like Souter, she's an intellectual lightweight who can't hold her own with others already on the Court. That's why I'm not mad. There are other, more sinister candidates that Obama could have chosen. Perhaps if another vacancy is created during Obama's term as POTUS (and it is likely), I should make sure that Lamar has A Time to Speak on his desk in D.C.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Start of Practice on The Hill

I've worked all day on one pleading, one grueling day, for sure. It makes me rejuvenated, however, to know that football practice started for my Vols today. Only 30 more days until IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!


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